Beauden Barrett on top of the Rugby World

Beauden Barrett on top of the Rugby World

Whilst sitting at the New Zealand Rugby press conference, to announce that he had re-signed with the All Blacks, Hurricanes and with the Taranaki union, Beauden Barrett would have felt on top of the rugby world. That is not a false statement, as the player has produced some of the finest rugby seen in New Zealand since 2005.

Examples of his play, the form improvements he has displayed over the last two years have been supported by complete fan approval. His elevation to starting first five role has only reinforced that choice. In a number of games in 2015 and in many games this year (when selected) Beauden Barrett has underlined his selection.

And the occasion midweek at Rugby House in Wellington was justification for the smile on Barrett’s face. Sitting alongside Steve Tew, CEO of New Zealand Rugby (NZR) the feeling would have been mutual. On the other side was Avan Lee, the CEO of Hurricanes Rugby. For him, the re-signing of Barrett was the cherry on top. The winning of the 2016 Super Rugby title was laid on the foundation that Barrett and his team mates brought to the ‘Canes.

Along the way, Barrett has impressed many. Coaches along the way have all agreed, he is a special talent. Voted ‘Man of the Match’ in the 2016 Super Rugby final, it was his control that sealed the victory. Adored by many, he has fans within his own team too. Leading All Blacks winger Julian Savea being one.

“He’s playing outstandingly,” said his Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate. “His speed to beat defenders and the way he has been running, is unreal. Maybe I will get fast like that one day.”

Great form equals good value

Between the NZR and the Hurricanes, is Taranaki. The provincial union where a blindingly-fast Barrett debuted in first class rugby back in 2010. Fresh faced from the Coastal Rugby and Sports club, it propelled him in a breakout season. He played in the ITM Cup to start with and was quickly selected by Sir Gordon Tietjens for the New Zealand Sevens team.

Beauden Barrett 7's
Beauden Barrett of Taranaki makes a break during the Cup Final between Auckland and Taranaki at the National Sevens Tournament (Getty)

The full story has evolved from there: Taranaki, Under-20 World Championship, Hurricanes and then the ‘big break’. Selected for the 2012 All Blacks side to face Ireland, he was introduced immediately in a 60-0 flogging. That began a quick elevation from promising player to a dynamic utility, he eclipsed all estimations of his quality.

That quality is now apparent. The subsequent marketability has also transpired into the higher value that NZR would have needed to place in contract negotiations. While never as transparent as in the English Premier League or NRL, remuneration has not been made public at this time.

NZ Rugby’s highest paid player

Assumptions on national news media has suggested that Barrett maybe the first local player to command a seven-figure salary. Last Word On Sports believe that figure to be embellished–maybe with endorsements, yes. Barrett may well have a marketable quality to him, though his face is not as prevalent on TV screens as you might imagine.

In fact, you might see head coach Steve Hansen or Ben Smith more frequently. But Barrett has not re-signed just for the monetary rewards alone. He has a down to earth character, being part of an tightly knit family. Growing up in Pungarehu, he is one of eight children. Known as ‘Beaudy’ to his siblings and friends, the rugby-pedigree runs deep.

Not only do his brothers play professional rugby [Kane, Scott and Jordie] but his father has a credible record of his own. Kevin ‘Smiley’ Barrett played 167 matches for Taranaki and 14 for the Hurricanes. With that built-in understanding of the game, young Beauden was at home on the rugby field from a young age.

Established in All Black

Now, established in the All Blacks jersey, as the song goes “he’s got the whole world in his hands”. For Barrett, his form has enabled him to become one of the world’s premier rugby union players. Within the All Blacks environment, he sits on top of the rugby world.

Beauden Barrett has reached a level where today, he is recognized as one of the best first fives, if not arguably the best. As gifted as Dan Carter, he has emulated the forceful, running-style made famous by Carter in the 2005 Lions tour.

All comparisons aside, Barrett has been used mostly as an impact utility; most notably in the successful 2015 Rugby World Cup final (below).

Since then, his Super Rugby form has seen him develop further. As with any player, he had desired to cement the starting place in the team first. To do so in the All Blacks, and play so convincingly, is a dream come true. Barrett has ‘owned’ the role and even with internal pressure from Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga, it has only improved the performance of all three men.

On top of the Rugby World

Since scoring his first test try, which was subsequently voted International Rugby Players’ Association’s Try of the Year for 2013, the only direction is up. After attaining many accolades over his short career, that list will only grow longer:

  • 2010/2011 IRB World Sevens series title
  • 2011 Under-20 World Championship title
  • 2013 Ranfurly Shield with Taranaki
  • 2015 Rugby World Cup
  • 2012/2013/2014 The Rugby Championship title
  • Bledisloe Cup holder; since debut

No doubt, with financial security now under his belt, he knows he will be a pert of NZ Rugby until the 2019 Rugby World Cup. That, alongside the signing of Hansen and his coaching group, means that this player has three more years to develop.

The rugby world must be wondering “how much better can this kid get?”.

“Main photo credit”

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